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- 1 Convection Microwave Oven Buyer’s Guide
- 2 What Makes a Convection Microwave Oven Good?
- 3 Best Convection Microwave Ovens - Reviews
If you have been considering replacing your existing convection microwave oven or want to upgrade from a standard microwave oven there are plenty of models to choose from. We review three of the best convection microwave ovens, provide a comprehensive buyer's guide and discuss what makes a convection microwave oven a good purchase.
|Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Countertop Microwave Oven with Convection, Smart Sensor,1.5 Cu.ft, Stainless Steel||Prime||Check Price at Amazon|
|Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave, 1.1 Cubic Feet, Stainless Steel||Prime||Check Price at Amazon|
|Cuisinart CMW-200 1.2-Cubic-Foot Convection Microwave Oven with Grill||Prime||Check Price at Amazon|
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Convection Microwave Oven Buyer’s Guide
What is a Convection Microwave Oven?
A convection microwave oven is a combination of a microwave oven with a regular convection oven. With this sort of microwave oven, you still have all the fast cooking functions of a normal microwave including presets and defrost functions for example.
In addition to this, you also get the crisping and browning of foods that you would get if you were cooking it in a regular oven.
Convection microwave ovens tend to look like standard microwave ovens in that they are the same size, have similar power outputs. Their control panels and displays operate in much the same way too.
One aspect of convection microwave ovens that might be considered negative is that they tend to have higher prices than standard microwave ovens. However, any extra is normally worth the additional cooking options that you get with a convection microwave oven.
How Does a Convection Microwave Oven Work?
From a technical point of view, the microwaves that heat the food still do the same job that they would do in a standard microwave oven. In other words, the microwaves induce the molecules in the food to rotate, and this rotation generates the thermal energy that in turn heats the food. This makes microwave ovens a quick and convenient way to cook food.
Where convection comes into the equation is with the fan that operates within the oven. The fan forces the heat to move around the interior of the oven, and this causes the food to cook differently. Instead of heating quickly, and often not evenly throughout, the food cooks from the inside out, and thus is more thoroughly cooked.
What are the Types of Convection Microwaves?
There are three main types of convection microwaves, each with its benefits and drawbacks. Budget, kitchen décor and cooking capability (power and features), and lifestyle are factors to consider when selecting the best convection microwave oven for your kitchen.
Countertop Convection Microwave Oven
If you are in the market for a portable and freestanding unit, the countertop convection microwave oven is a good option. Although affordability is a relative term, there are some models available at a fair price point.
The portability is a nice benefit as it can easily be set on your kitchen countertop, a table or cart.
Over-the-range Convection Microwave Oven
For those who are short on space, an over-the-range convection microwave is an elegant solution. It frees up counter space so you have more room for meal preparation.
This type of convection microwave oven is designed to be mounted over a stove or cooktop. It usually comes with a built-in ventilation system that either leads to an outside vent or recirculates air back into the kitchen. This exhaust fan removes smoke, steam and cooking odors.
On the downside, they are not portable units and have a higher price point than the countertop models.
Built-In Convection Microwave Oven
The last convection microwave oven type is built-in convection microwaves. They can be installed (may need professional installation) into the wall or a cabinet.
Some residential kitchens may not have room for this type of oven. They are more expensive than the countertop and over-the-range convection microwaves.
Specifications for Types of Microwave Ovens
15.5 to 24.7
14.2 to 21.75
*Small sample size
Convection vs. Conventional Microwave Ovens
If you want to cook the widest and most diverse range of foods possible with your microwave oven, including baking and roasts, then a convection microwave oven is the option for you. However, if all you need is something that can quickly heat meals, snacks, and leftovers, with minimal effort, then a smaller size microwave oven will do that job for you perfectly.
Apart from the way they function, one of the other differences you may find between convection and standard microwave ovens is the price.
Related Content: Are convection microwave ovens worth the extra money?
Buying a Convection Microwave Oven
There is a diverse range of convection microwave ovens, so buying the best one takes some care and consideration. Reading this article is a good start, but beyond that, here are a few factors to consider when choosing the best microwave convection oven.
First, the amount of space you have in your kitchen should be considered, especially with regard to countertop space if that is where you plan to locate it. The alternative is an oven that is installed over the range. In either case, you must ensure you have the correct dimensions so you know what the limits are on the size of the microwave oven that you can buy.
Next, consider the range of cooking options you want and whether you'd prefer lots of automatic presets or just a few basic ones. There are considerable differences between products in terms of their functions, so not only do you want to know what these functions do, but you also need to decide whether you want them or not.
As with any purchase, there will be price considerations and with convection microwave ovens the range can be significant. No matter their income, everyone will have their view on what they are prepared to spend.
It’s also beneficial to determine which ovens which have the features you desire and then match them to the price you are prepared to pay. As always ensure the dimensions of the unit you are considering are suitable for where you plan to locate it.
What Makes a Convection Microwave Oven Good?
As mentioned, microwave ovens are normally good at cooking food quickly, but this does have its drawbacks. Often the food is not cooked thoroughly, or you might find parts of the food are very hot, with some parts still cold. Although this does not happen every time, it is a criticism that is sometimes made about cooking with microwave ovens.
With a convection microwave oven, all the issues we've just mentioned are dealt with, plus it allows for an even greater range of cooking types. As there is a fan which is circulating air within the oven, the heat distribution is more even throughout. This means that food is being cooked evenly and thus you should not have the 'hot bits / cold bits' scenario.
Another benefit is that by cooking in this way, food tends to cook from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. This ensures that all parts of the food are cooked properly.
Convection microwaves also allow you to cook items that you would otherwise not be able to in a normal microwave. For example, roasting meats such as pork, beef or chicken is not normally possible in a microwave as it cooks them too quickly. However, the evenly distributed heat within a convection microwave oven enables those meats to cook properly, and throughout.
Baking and grilling are other cooking types that can be done in convection microwave and thus it gives a greater diversity of the types of foods you can cook.
Can I Bake in a Convection Microwave?
The simple answer to this question is 'yes,' you can bake in a convection microwave oven.
When the convection function is operating, your microwave oven more or less bakes in the same way, an ordinary oven does. In other words, heat is generated, in this case by the microwaves, and the convection fan evenly distributes that heat throughout the interior of the oven.
You will find many convection microwaves have the option to remove the turntable and instead place your baked goods on racks which replicates your normal oven even more.
There is no limit to what you can bake in a convection microwave oven - cakes, cookies, tarts, scones, bread, and pies just to name a few.
One quick tip you should note is that if you are baking with your convection microwave oven, you should preheat it, just as you would with an ordinary oven.
Best Convection Microwave Ovens - Reviews
Toshiba EC042A5C-SS Microwave Oven with Convection Smart Sensor
Toshiba has one of the highest reputations in the world for manufacturing high-spec electrical and electronic products. They are becoming more well-known for their high-quality kitchen equipment.
The EC042A5C-SS Microwave Oven with Convection Function is one such example. In addition to the array of features offered, its stunning stainless steel design means it also adds a touch of class to any kitchen.
We'll start with the overall design of this Toshiba microwave which has a very appealing combination of stainless steel and black throughout. While this might be considered suitable only for modern kitchens, that wouldn’t be entirely accurate as this will look great in kitchens of all types, including traditional kitchens with wooden fronts and kitchens where white is the predominant color.
It has a respectable maximum power output of 1000 watts which should be sufficient for almost all cooking scenarios. With an interior of 1.5 cubic feet, it certainly has a sufficiently sized interior for larger items to be cooked in it, such as whole chickens or pots of stew.
When it comes to the options you have for cooking settings and controls, this is where this convection microwave oven excels.
First, there is the smart sensor cooking with 13 auto menus which means you no longer have to guess the optimal times and power settings for what you are cooking. Instead, this microwave oven's sensors identify the level of humidity within the item which is cooking, and adjusts those levels automatically, meaning your food is cooked to as near to perfection as is possible.
Your options when cooking also includes up to 10 different power settings, as well as being able to set the timer using the large LED display. You have one-touch options for pre-programmed settings for foods such as pizza, potatoes, vegetables, and popcorn.
With the convection cooking options, the range of cooking possibilities becomes even greater. With these, you have 4 auto bake menus and 4 auto roast menus. This expands the foods you can cook using this Toshiba microwave oven to include muffins, french fries, cookies, turkey breast, and beef roasts, to name but a few.
If you have cooked something, but are not yet ready to serve it, you can use the oven's 'Warm Hold' function. This keeps items warm for up to 99 minutes, and when you remove your food to serve, it will be at exactly the right temperature.
With all the cooking you are bound to do with this convection microwave oven, it is almost certainly going to need cleaning regularly. This should not be a chore thanks to the stainless steel interior, which needs only a wipe with a damp cloth to stay clean.
This Toshiba convection microwave is rust and scratch-resistant so it should stay as good as new for the lifetime of the oven.
The final feature we wish to point out is Toshiba's 'Echo-Mode.' You can select this when the microwave oven is on standby and it will reduce its power consumption by 50%. Not only does this lower your power costs but it helps you do your bit for the environment too.
The warranty is for one year.
What We Like
There's nothing more frustrating than having something come out of the oven cooked to perfection, but for whatever reason, you cannot serve it up immediately. This why we love this microwave's 'Warm Hold' function as you can cook food in advance and keep it at exactly the correct serving temperature until it’s time to go onto the plate.
What We Don’t Like
While microwave ovens are relatively simple, you still need an instruction booklet as each one will have different functions and controls. This does have one, but it doesn't even explain what each function is, and is so poorly written, it could make users more confused than had they not read it at all.
Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave
Let's deal with what we have just mentioned in the intro, and that is the fact that this convection microwave oven is designed to be installed above a range instead of sitting on a countertop.
In most cases, this installation is very simple and easy to do, and in case anyone was wondering, it does not need to be vented as it has its built-in exhaust system. With this being above the range, you will have the added advantage that the space on your countertop will not be reduced by the microwave oven sitting on it.
Once installed, the oven's design should enhance the look of your kitchen's appearance given its stainless steel exterior. This should not only blend into most kitchen designs, but it is also very easy to clean so you can keep it looking as new for a long time to come.
The power output is a little disappointing at just 850 watts, but even at that, it is capable of doing just about anything any other microwave could do, although it may take a bit longer.
For cooking, this Sharp convection microwave has a large number of options. First, you have no fewer than 11 different power settings meaning you can set the microwave to as close to the perfect cooking power for anything you might wish to cook.
There are a total of 25 different automatic cooking functions that allow you to set it to cook and the oven will make adjustments to the power and cooking time as necessary. This is achieved thanks to its built-in sensors which ensure optimal cooking.
These cooking options also work for those items that you wish to cook using the convection functions. They include the very cleverly named 'CompuBroil,' 'CompuRoast' and 'CompuBake' where the oven will make automatic adjustments whenever you are broiling, roasting or baking.
It's 1.1 cubic foot capacity means it will certainly be big enough inside for some of the larger items you might wish to cook such as roasts and large bowls of popcorn. With the interior, you have the option to remove the turntable and instead use either a low or a high rack. This will be useful for when you are baking or cooking meats such as ribs or baking
Whichever cooking options you plan to use, you will find selecting them very easy thanks to the oven's large control panel, which includes a bright LED display. This makes monitoring cooking times and countdowns easier, however, this would have been even better if the control panel had also been backlit.
The warranty is for one year with an additional 6 years for magnetron tube – parts only.
What We Like
There are lots of microwave ovens, including those with convection functions, that only give you the option to use the turntable when cooking. While this may suffice most of the time, it is not always ideal for when you are baking or roasting. That is why we love the fact that with this Sharp microwave, you can turn off the turntable, remove it, and instead use either a low or high rack.
What We Don’t Like
Given that this convection microwave oven could be used in many locations where the lighting may not be ideal users would hope that the control panel would be backlit. Unfortunately, it is not and therefore if you are using this, and light levels are poor, you may struggle to see the individual control buttons.
Cuisinart CMW-200 1.2-Cu Ft Convection Microwave Oven with Grill
We are not sure whether Cuisinart deliberately chose to have the word 'art' in their name because they planned to make every product that they manufacture a thing of beauty, but even if they didn’t, they have come close with their CMW-200 Convection Microwave Oven. Its design is one that set itself apart from many other microwaves, and we are sure that it will grace any kitchen it is used in.
Let's start with that design we mentioned in the introduction, and while we are not suggesting it is akin to a work of art, the fact that its brushed stainless steel finish is somewhat unique does give it some kudos in respect of its appearance. It certainly differs positively from the standard stainless steel exteriors you would normally see on a microwave.
On to some of the specifics of this Cuisinart microwave oven. The interior space which is a decently sized 1.2 cubic feet should be more than enough to cook some of the larger food items you may choose to cook.
While we are focused on the interior, we should point out that it is also stainless steel meaning that cleaning should be easy, and that odors should not be present as stainless steel does not absorb them.
You have cooking options aplenty and that applies not only to the number of automatic cooking functions but also to the types of cooking you can employ with this microwave oven.
First, you have 9 preset options for specific foods that include pizza, cake, roast chicken, vegetables (fresh or frozen), potatoes, popcorn, and beverages. Simply chose your preset and the oven will adjust its settings automatically to cook each of these to near perfection.
You have two defrost options which allow you to defrost frozen food, either by the length of time or by its weight. This ensures that the food is defrosted properly.
One of the most impressive features this Cuisinart convection microwave oven has is ‘Multi-Stage’ cooking. This allows you to program the oven to switch between 3 different cooking modes as an item is cooking.
An example of this would be a frozen shepherd's pie with cheese topping. You could set the program to defrost the pie first, then to cook it, and then to grill its topping so that it crisps slightly and the cheese melts.
As for convection cooking, you have multiple options here too. This oven can bake or roast which means you can cook everything from Madeira cake to roast lamb. There is also a grill function that expands the possibilities of what you can cook with this oven to even greater numbers.
With all these functions you might fear that to operate this microwave oven would be difficult, but nothing could be further from the truth. The control panel is well laid out and the text on the buttons is very clear. Most of the functions are one-touch and the LCD display shows you exactly what you have selected along with the countdown timer when you start.
The limited warranty is for three years.
What We Like
While this is a very versatile oven with lots of functions, the one that stands out for us is its multi-stage cooking functions. The fact that you can set this microwave oven to cook items in three different stages makes using it so much easier than if you had to stop-start every time. It adds a ton of convenience and saves a lot of time.
What We Don’t Like
All microwave ovens have mesh in the door glass as does this one. However, in most of them, the holes in the mesh are sufficiently sized and spaced so that you can check on what's cooking inside. That is not the case with this Cuisinart microwave where it is next to impossible to see through the mesh to check your food.
We trust you found our reviews of the best convection microwave ovens enlightening and that our buyer's guide shed some light on any questions you may have had.
Admittedly all three of the convection microwave ovens we reviewed were different so to choose the one which thought was best wasn't that easy. Nevertheless, we have chosen the Cuisinart CMW-200 1.2-Cubic-Foot Convection Microwave Oven with Grill as our top choice.
This was mainly due to its vast array of cooking options and functions which give users the greatest choice in what they can cook with this oven. In particular, we loved the multi-stage cooking option, which gave it the edge over the others.